As Janet shared her struggles, from her family rejecting her gender identity to finally garnering her mother’s support in pursuing gender reassignment surgery, some important issues were highlighted, particularly around the unsupervised use of female hormone drugs among transgender women.
In the story, Janet revealed that she bought her first set of female hormone pills from her good friend, Wendi.
For me, this moment came when Wendi, whom I remained friends with despite being in different schools, started taking female hormone pills. When she graduated to injections a few months later, she sold me her pills for $1 a pop. The timing was divine, as I’d already begun to detect a hint of an Adam’s apple on my throat. The changes in my 15-year-old body horrified me. Sometimes while showering, my thoughts got dark: What if I just cut this thing off? Wendi’s pills were my savior. For three months, I took estrogen and watched my body’s slow metamorphosis: softer skin, budding breasts, a fuller face. But I knew that taking them without the supervision of a doctor was risky. I needed someone to monitor my progress.
When Janet confessed to taking the pills, her mother was left with two choices: get her daughter access to a qualified health professional or turn her cheek while “hoping for the best.” Her mother chose to sign off on an endocrinologist’s routine of treatments, eventually leading to gender reassignment surgery.
Often, transgender health struggles are overlooked not only by loved ones, but also by “mainstream” media. Simply put, equal access to healthcare is not exclusive to any gender identity and there’s a dire need for inclusive health advocacy that addresses the transgender community’s needs.